March 22, 2016 | Written by: Andrew MacIsaac
Webster’s Dictionary describes cognition as the building of knowledge, something we as human beings have become very proficient at throughout the course of our history. What has also marked our human capability to build knowledge has been our ability to build, deploy and use tools and technology to augment our capability to learn. From the abacus, to books, to the computer, the internet, to sensors, and mobile devices mankind has utilized technology to not only build knowledge, but to share it and act upon it. What makes today different from any other point of history is that the amount of data that we as humans can leverage to build knowledge is far greater then ability to consume it, understand it and glean insight from it. Estimates indicate that collectively most organizations only leverage 12% of their available data, leaving a vast of majority available data on the sidelines when it comes to building insights and using those insights to make critical decisions. Across industries 90% of leaders cite that data is a critical resource and fundamental point of differentiation. According to one economic estimate if more of the underutilized data could be harnessed and used more effectively by as little as one 1%, it would result in a $15 billion increase in Global GDP. [i]
For Government leaders the emergence of cognitive era, brought about by computing technology that can understand unstructured data, reason, learn and interact with humans, creates an opportunity to address some of the most pressing issues facing all levels of government. Challenges around how to increase efficiency, deliver enhanced citizen services and improve programs outcomes have always existed, but what makes this point of time different is that the technology available now gives leaders in all industries, including government the ability to augment human capabilities, in uncovering insights, predicting outcomes and making evidence based decisions at scale and at speed.
A Gartner report has stated that the era of the smart machine is upon us, and it “will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”[ii] For government this era of smart or cognitive computing will be gradual and will require government leaders to prepare strong digital agendas built upon hybrid cloud, analytics, and mobile and security technologies that will accelerate the curation, collection and analysis of data. Early adopters of cognitive computing within government are already seeing how thinking systems are helping them better serve the needs of citizens, by building channels of engagement that can understand natural language, learn about needs and provide individualized interactions. Other government segments are using cognitive capabilities to detect and mitigate threats to security and public safety, by analyzing streams of unstructured data at speed and scale not possible before.
To help government leaders understand the implications of the cognitive era and how to prepare for it IBM has produced two recent publications the IBM Institute of Business Value report titled Mission Possible: Your Cognitive Future in Government, and the IBM Government Industry Point of View entitled Cognitive Government: Enabling the Data Driven Economy in the Cognitive Era which will provide high level overviews around the implications and promise of the cognitive era for government.
From my perspective the cognitive era is going to revolutionize the approaches government leaders need to take as they build the digital capabilities of their agencies. I am looking forward to sharing examples of how the cognitive era will take hold in government and how it will contribute to elevating the prospects of economic vitality for cities, regions and countries and the quality of life for citizens.
Related Blog post: Meeting government challenges with cognitive